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The Trek Nation - Extreme Risk

Extreme Risk

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:52 PM GMT

See Also: 'Extreme Risk' Episode Guide

On the holodeck, Torres disengages the safety protocols when she goes orbital skydiving. The computer warns her of the dangers but Chakotay interrupts her before she finishes the jump. Torres asks Seven to handle the launch of a new probe, saying she doesn't feel well. The new probe which Tuvok designed is tractored by aliens - the Malon, who are polluting this region of space. Tuvok diverts the probe into the atmosphere of a gas giant, but it becomes trapped there. Paris suggests building his experimental new shuttle design to retrieve it, which is initially greeted with scorn, but eventually the senior staff is impressed by his adaptation of their own designs to join the project. Only Torres seems disinterested.

Seven discovers that the Malon are also building an experimental shuttle to retrieve Voyager's probe, which they claim as compensation for a ship which blew up earlier trying to steal it. As Voyager's crew rushes to build the "Delta Flyer," Seven criticizes Torres' suggestions, but Torres barely reacts and returns to the holodeck, this time to fight Cardassians with the safeties off. She is injured and returns to her quarters to repair the damage, then goes to the mess hall where she asks Neelix for her favorite pancakes, but she doesn't eat them. She finishes her work for Paris but refuses to spend time with him.

When the Delta Flyer is ready for testing, the crew discovers microfractures in the hull during simulations. Torres volunteers to test it on the holodeck, but takes the safeties off, thus getting badly injured during the test. When the Malons attack, Janeway sends Chakotay to retrieve Torres; he finds her unconscious and has her beamed to sickbay, where the Doctor finds evidence that she has been injuring and repairing herself for months. Janeway demands to know why; when Torres won't tell her, she takes her off duty and asks Chakotay and Paris to find out what Torres has been doing on the holodeck.

Chakotay gets Torres from her quarters and asks for a look at her programs, but when they arrive at the holodeck, he chooses one and drags her in against her will. It's a program in which all their former Maquis colleagues have been brutally murdered. Chakotay demands to know why she created it; she says that the day he told her all the Maquis were gone, she started to lose her ability to feel anything - about their deaths, about Tom, about work. Her father abandoned her, Starfleet kicked her out, the Maquis are gone; she has lost every family she ever had. Chakotay tells her she has a new family on Voyager, but Janeway calls him to the bridge because the Malons are attacking.

Janeway orders Paris to take the new flyer to retrieve the probe; Torres begs Chakotay to be allowed to go on the mission because she's the best engineer on board, and he agrees. Seven disables the Malon shuttle with Borg weaponry and Paris gets them close enough to beam the probe aboard, but microfractures threaten to destroy the flyer. Torres improvises first with a patch, then a forcefield, thus saving the flyer and its crew. When the flyer docks, Torres thanks Chakotay but warns him that if he ever tries a stunt like that again, she'll break his neck. He smiles, and she goes to the mess for banana pancakes.

Analysis:

First, let me say that the women on this cast do depression very well. Kate Mulgrew was very convincing as a frustrated, isolated captain in "Night"; Jeri Ryan was very convincing as a lonely Borg experiencing loss for the first time in "Drone"; Roxann Dawson was very convincing as an unhappy, paralyzed engineer in "Extreme Risk." This episode was certainly interesting to watch with all the exciting action of Torres' skydiving and shuttle tests. But how many episodes can these writers come up with about depressed women having trouble focusing on their duties to the ship? They're three for three this season on the tragic babe count, and I'm already really sick of it.

The humor in this episode was quite well-done; I liked Tuvok cracking that Paris hasn't been paying attention, I liked Paris using Captain Proton's control panel in his shuttle, I liked Neelix asking why Torres wasn't insulting his cooking (though he was ill-used in this episode; when Voyager's crew encountered him, he was working in salvage, yet they never asked his advice on retrieving their probe from the aggressive salvaging Malon). Ironically the best joke was the building of the flyer itself: oh, so THAT'S how they've managed to blow up forty or so shuttles since the series started and not run out! I also giggled a bit at Janeway's willingness to risk a majority of her command crew on a mission to salvage one probe while testing an experimental flyer - if Torres had not gone along, she'd have lost Chak, Paris, Kim, and Seven - but I guess that wasn't really that funny, coming from a woman who whined a couple of weeks ago that she really needed something to blow up to improve her mood, and who has received even less treatment for depression than Torres.

I can't say Torres' behavior was inconsistent - she has been very cranky this season, at Paris, at the Malon in "Night," at One in "Drone" - but we really have seen nothing to indicate despondence growing over several months, though we have also not seen any growth in her or her relationship with Paris. That flatness makes it slightly easier to take her instantaneous recovery at the end with no medical intervention or counseling...but not much, considering that Janeway also snapped out of serious depression similarly two episodes ago. These writers are being VERY flip about the seriousness of this condition and the difficulty of recovery for people.

Ahh, the Brannon Braga administration, in which women who previously showed only small signs of total incompetence get too mopey to do their jobs. Fortunately - with the help of a good strong man like Chakotay - they always recover in less than half an hour. But what will they do next week while he's busy getting boinked and then whipped by another devious alien babe? Guess we will have to tune in and see!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.